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EDITORIAL: Take precautions on summertime roads

If you’ve lived in Crenshaw County for more than a minute, you’re familiar with the rise in Hwy. 331 traffic during summer months. But that’s not the only road with increased usage in the summertime.

As tourists claim the main thoroughfares, locals claim the back roads and take shortcuts through residential neighborhoods that can get you from one corner of the county to the other, without ever seeing a traffic light or out-of-state license plate.

City planners did a great job of mapping out these roadways in a way that has helped relieve the burden of 331 usage during its busiest season.

But, there is something officials did not take into consideration. The residential traffic increases at the same time children are on vacation and more likely to be on the roads, too. Residential roads could stand to be wider to accommodate roadside vehicles, walkers, bicyclists and through traffic.

A wreck in the heart of Luverne last Friday sent one child to the hospital.

As the investigation continues, no one has been found to be at fault, but the accident should serve as a reminder to drivers, pedestrians, parents and bicyclists.

Drivers, heed the speed limit and traffic signs. Keep your eyes on the road, not your phone. If you find it hard to do, keep your phone out off and/or out of reach until you have reached your destination.

Pedestrians, use sidewalks whenever available. Wear white or reflective clothing. If you are using earphones, keep the volume low enough to hear car horns and vehicles.

The best way for a child to learn bicycle and pedestrian safety skills is to be instructed by adults. Reinforce those instructions by practicing and repeating them often.

Children in their early years of elementary school do not have fully developed peripheral vision, which means they could easily miss a vehicle when preparing to cross a street if they do not look both ways. Teach children to “look left, right and left again.”

According to the Department of Transportation, children under 10 years old are not mature enough to make the decisions necessary to safely ride bicycles and skates in the streets. They are better off riding on the sidewalks.

Whether you are on two wheels, four wheels or eight, heed the speed limit, look both ways and take extra precautions in residential areas.

For more information about bicycle safety, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at www.nhtsa.dot.gov.